I’ve always worked. I’ve been working since I was a teenager. I had three months off back in the summer of 2010 but I’ve come to regret how I spent my time. Back then I was a smoker and I had no interest in exercising. I spent my days in front of my big screen. I did other things that summer but nothing compared to how I would spend my time nowadays. I often dreamed of what I would do with that amount of time if I had to do it over again.
I’m not saying that I’m happy that a pandemic broke out but I was happy to be able to have time to myself. I did everything that I should have done back in 2010. I spent my mornings either cycling or running and my afternoons either reading or watching movies. I read “Let Your Mind Run”, “Shut Up Legs”, “The Incomplete Book of Running”, “Eat & Run”, and “A Life Without Limits”. I watched a lot of Running and Cycling Documentaries as well as the inspirational movie “St. Ralph”.
I had fun adventures while cycling and running. I enjoyed the minimal car traffic and took advantage of roads that I would normally avoid because of heavy traffic. Every day was not a beautiful and cloudless day with perfect weather but I enjoyed them all the same, despite all the damn wind we were having. On one of my rides I was just a couple of miles from home when I came to a roadblock due to a car fire! Once it was established that the driver was perfectly safe and that it was his company’s car, I took pictures. The car was ablaze and there were mini explosions within the fire. It was crazy!
I normally run a half marathon distance on Sunday at tempo heart rate with ten second hill sprints at the campus nearby but it was converted into a Covid-19 testing center. I started running on a quiet, hilly road nearby instead. I normally start my runs with my legs feeling like lead logs before they finally warm up after three miles. One day I felt amazing from the very start of the run until the end and it was my second fastest half marathon distance. My fastest half marathon was at the Celebrate Life Half Marathon, a hilly race upstate. I pushed my heart rate to the max at that race and had a PR by about four minutes. This run was at my tempo heart rate and was about two minutes slower that the race.
The runs after that started the same as they usually did with my first thoughts being “I feel like crap and I’m dying”. I decided that that one day was just me having a good day. It wasn’t until three weeks later that I put it together. I was reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I normally don’t judge people but I saw him as a scrawny vegan… until I read his book. I always thought of vegans as tree hugging wild environmentalists. Scott Jurek is none of those things. In the beginning of his book he wrote about eating barbecued meat! He is not opposed to eating animal products, he simply chooses not to. He wrote about how much better he felt on a plant based regimen. I loved how open he was about his life and searched for movies with him in them. That’s how I stumbled upon “The Game Changers”. This movie showed me how the body metabolizes different foods and contradicted everything that I thought I knew.
That was when I had my great epiphany. OMG! The night before that awesome run I had eaten Tofu Pad Thai, the date was on my billing statement. I always eat overnight oats made with almond milk before my activities. That was it! I ate plant based foods and benefitted from it. I started experimenting with different foods, including seafood. My best efforts were after eating a high protein plant based pasta with either tofu or seafood. My favorite thing to make is butternut squash sauce with dill, it’s delicious. I make a lot of Thai inspired food loaded with vegetables. I’ve always eaten a wide variety of food so I was prepared to switch it up. If you season food properly anything will taste great.
In the middle of all this I had been researching the Stryd footpod for running power metrics. I read an in depth review that focused on the training aspect of it instead of the technology itself. That sealed the deal for me. In TrainingPeaks the only unit of measurement or progress is pace. Pace is dependent on so many factors. The Stryd footpod also has wind detection as well as efficiency metrics. There are times that I’m running slow but working harder and vise versa. It’s important to me that I know what my actual efforts are. I have learned so many fascinating things about myself while analyzing the data it provides after my runs. For instance, I use less power to keep my heart rate from shooting up when I climb up hills and more power going downhill to keep my heart rate from dropping too low. So, basically, in order to keep my heart rate even I have to climb slowly and power down a descent. The data is very interesting.
Between eating a regimen conducive to making gains and analyzing my running power and efficiency metrics, it’s almost as if I became faster overnight. My Critical Power (running ftp) has shot up since I started using the footpod. All of my running training is coming together. I was experiencing many inconsistencies that I’m no longer having.
Of course I’m also having cycling gains. I have a lot of work to do on the bike to get to where I want to be but it’s coming along and I feel much better riding. Just like my runs, I feel good from beginning to end. There were times on my rides when I couldn’t figure out why my hard work wasn’t adding up to me putting out power. The answer was simple, it was my shoes. My winter cycling boots don’t have a stiff sole like my spring/summer shoes do. For a couple of years I couldn’t figure out why I slowed down, again it was the shoes. I was wearing cheap shoes with more padding in the sole. When I bought new shoes with a stiffer sole last summer my riding dramatically improved. My confidence is going up and I feel better about myself.
What does a lady do to boost her confidence even more? A makeover of course! A friend of mine posted herself on Facebook doing her hair. I hadn’t trimmed my hair since 2012 and my ends were straight out nasty. My grays were running rampant and I’d done nothing to stop them. I felt ashamed of myself. She was using a hot air brush. I looked into it and that brush blows hair out straight in twenty minutes! I bought one. I also bought a set of scissors and hair dye. I trimmed and dyed my own hair. Not only do I feel much better about my appearance but I feel empowered from being able to do it by myself.
I’m not happy about the pandemic but I am happy about being able to hit the pause button and reset my life. I learned and grew tremendously in the seven weeks that I was off. I have absolutely no regrets about how I spent my time. I was extremely productive and forever changed. I hope that all of you are heathy and safe. No matter what you have going on, every day is an opportunity to grow and make positive changes. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. As always, I thank you all very much for reading!